Image: Ari Magnusson

United Airlines unveiled its new aircraft livery yesterday at an event held in one of its hangars at Chicago O’Hare International Airport. APEX Media attended the official unveiling and spoke to United’s CEO, Oscar Munoz, and vice-president of Marketing, Mark Krolick, to learn more about what the new livery represents for United.

The latest iteration of United’s livery represents an evolution, rather than a revolution of the carrier’s branding. United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz told APEX Media that the process of designing the new livery took almost a year and involved several reviews, redesigns and focus groups. “There’s a lot of people that go into this and a lot of emotion and a lot of pride and a lot of history that goes into it as well,” he said.

United CEO Oscar Munoz speaking to employees before pulling back the curtains. Image: Ari Magnusson

While the airline is retaining the globe logo on the tail of its aircraft, it has replaced the gold for a new lighter shade of Sky Blue. “That color has been around with us for about 30 years and we just thought it was time for a refresh. So, it was nothing against gold, we just wanted to keep our palette fresh,” explained Munoz.

Image: Ari Magnusson

However, United’s vice-president of Marketing Mark Krolick went further, telling APEX Media that gold was simply not a popular color among passengers. “Customers really look at gold as kind of corporate and inflexible and even elitist.” Instead, the new paint job features three shades of blue called Rhapsody Blue, United Blue and Sky Blue, in addition to Runway Gray, creating a color palette that United says pays respect to its heritage while bringing in a “more modern energy.”

“We started introducing new accent colors, things like, purples and different blues that were still very premium but also a little bit more unexpected,” – Mark Krolick, United Airlines

“We started introducing new accent colors, things like, purples and different blues that were still very premium but also a little bit more unexpected and a little bit more fun to take us into the future,” said Krolick.

United’s new colors. Image: Ari Magnusson

Other notable color changes include the engines and wingtips, which will now be painted in United Blue. The swooping line found on the lower section of United’s existing Boeing 787 fuselages in Rhapsody Blue will be added to all other aircraft and the lower half of the body will now be painted in Runway Gray.

“I want it to symbolize what the new spirit of what United is all about. Hopefully it makes passenger feel good,” – Oscar Munoz, United Airlines

United’s lettering now features more prominently and in larger typeface across the front half of the fuselage, to use “the entire canvas” in the words of Krolick.

Image: Ari Magnusson

So, what message will the new livery communicate to the airline’s passengers? “On the fuselage, we have the concept of our shared purpose, which is connecting people and uniting the world. I want all our customers to understand that’s our shared vision,” Munoz said. “I want it to symbolize what the new spirit of United is all about. Hopefully it makes passengers feel good.”